August 2011 Archives

Hankering for More Help

Did you go see The Help on the big screen? USA today called it a "surprise summer hit," far surpassing attendance expectations for a mid-budget drama this time of year. Of course, those of us who loved the book aren't surprised! If the movie has whetted your appetite for some read-alikes, you may want to try these.

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
secret life of bees.jpg Lily Owens is a white girl living in the South in the mid-60s whose mother has died in a tragic accident. Her family's maid, Rosaleen, protects her until a racial incident puts them on the run. They are taken in by the beekeeping Boatwright sisters, who teach them about love, family, and womanhood in a story that is both beautiful and empowering.


The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
hotel on the corner of bitter and sweet.jpg Although set against a different backdrop than The Help, this book also explores the impact racial discrimination has on relationships throughout our lives. Chinese-American Henry Lee recalls his first childhood love, Japanese-American Keiko Okabe, whose family was placed in an internment camp during World War II.


Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin
crooked letter.jpg One of the criticisms leveled at The Help is that it portrays only a small slice of the Jim Crow experience, glossing over the harsher realities faced by many African Americans. If you're looking for a more complex, hard-edged examination of Southern race relations, this sophisticated crime drama both explores and rejects our stereotypes and prejudices. Two childhood friends, one black and one white, are torn about when the white boy is accused (though never convicted) of murder. Many years later, when another girl goes missing in their town, the two men are forced to face each other again.


Submitted by Audrey @ Forest Home


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The Wolverine Way by Douglas Chadwick (c2010)

wolverine_way.jpgThe way of the wolverine has long been a mystery. Rarely encountered in the wild, the wolverine has for the most part eluded scientific study. Chadwick was part of a team of scientists and wolverine enthusiasts that wanted to know more. From 2002 to 2007 they trapped (see photo below) and tagged and radio-chipped the resident wolverine population of Glacier National Park in Montana. And now he has documented their findings.

Wolverines eat whatever prey they can catch or scavenge. And not just the meat, they devour the bones and skulls as well. Protein equals fuel and wolverines need a lot of it as they are always on the move. Female territories often cover 200 miles and male territories twice that.

Cunning and fearless and relentless, a wolverine would just as soon climb up and over a mountain than go around it. They will fight bears and wolves off a carcass if the mood strikes them. They even have a cool scientific name, Gulo Gulo. But they are also in peril (at least in the lower 48) thanks to global warming and other human pressures.

Check catalog for availability.

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- submitted by Tom S. @ MPL Central


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Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson

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Finding a new novel that is thoughtful and intellectually stimulating is always a summer treat. Jane Austen has been gone a long time. Finding a novel that deals with grief and aging sounds depressing, but in the hands of a skilled author it can be healing, as the central character, retired Army Major Ernest Pettigrew, finds a way to live again after his beloved wife's death. Can there be love a second time? The characters in Helen Simonson's prose are challenged to stretch and grow as their core values and principles are challenged. The reader is also challenged.

Simonson is an author who can skillfully use a rich vocabulary to paint a complex three-dimensional picture: a charming English village, very real twenty first century racial problems between descendants of long-time residents and Pakistani immigrants, intergenerational misunderstandings and reconciliations, religious tensions and even city development problems. Some have compared her dry humor to P.G. Wodehouse. This is a rare find. The characters are entirely believable and not all are likable. If one is looking for a modern book as far from fast-action thrillers, sexual exploitation and bad language as possible, this is an excellent choice.

Like a famous racehorse, the novel is a bit slow to get out of the gate but accelerates to a dizzying speed and ends a winner. This is Simonson's first novel but she has already mastered capturing the reader's interest and holding it to the satisfying end. Recommended. Check catalog for availability.

Submitted by Virginia S. @ MPL Central


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The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters

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In The Little Stranger, Sarah Waters writes an engrossing tale of a postwar British doctor who is peculiarly connected to a historic manor house from his childhood and the aged family who has occupied it for generations. Bordering on obsessive, Dr. Faraday half-heartedly pursues the manor's eldest daughter, Caroline Ayres, who is steadily slipping into a downward spiral, going from eccentric to seemingly downright mad. Unclear by his own motives, the doctor cannot decide what continues to draw him closer to the family. Is it truly his affection for Caroline or his own childhood connection with the manor? The Ayres family - worn and from an era past, struggle to maintain their grip on reality as countless tragedies ensue and obscurity surround them. The house - now similarly dilapidated, adds to the layers of mystery. Is the house haunted with spirits of the past? Or are the inhabitants haunted by their loss of sanity? Prepare for a story that takes readers on a journey with ghosts from the past and a tale that has a family continually questioning their sanity. Waters writes a riveting gothic ghost story that grabs readers and fails to let go until the very last page is turned.

Submitted by Danielle R. - Technical Services, Serials Department
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The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters is the kind of ghost story that fans of Henry James and Shirley Jackson wish there were more of. The horror is subtle and psychological, not explicitly gruesome. The place is Warwickshire England and the time is shortly after WWII. The narrator, a local physician, is called to treat one of the maids at the home of an upper class family whose fortunes are in decline. Awed by the family's wealth as a child, the doctor is now taken aback to see how much things have deteriorated. The once grand house is crumbling and in need of repair, it's inhabitants' money almost gone.

The doctor finds himself paying frequent visits to the household and getting involved in the lives of the family members. He develops a romantic interest in the unattractive spinster sister who is just barely keeping the family finances together. As strange, inexplicable things begin to happen in the house, the doctor becomes obsessed with getting to the bottom of them.

Although the pace of the narrative is leisurely, the story is gripping. Keep reading at least until you reach the part where the child is bitten by a dog--after that you will not be able to put the book down. Not just a ghost story, this is also an examination of England's class system, as well as a perceptive character study. The chilling ending took me completely by surprise, and had me wanting to reread the entire book in search of clues.

Submitted by Mary @ Forest Home


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The Mindset Lists of American History by Tom McBride

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Beloit College released its list of what the world is like for new freshmen starting college this fall. Since 1998, their list records what has always been around and what no longer exists for each year's new class. Tom McBride and Mindset List developer Ron Nief take this annual rite of each new academic ride for a trip back to view the world through the eyes of our parents, grandparents and ancestors back to the Class of 1898 when they were 18.

Most chapters are 13 years apart from each other. Each chapter includes a short list of famous "class" members born the same year, celebrities who have always been dead during their young lifetimes and a list of 50 people and events that are mileposts for each generation of American history: turn of the century (20th), World War I, Great Depression, World War II, Cold War, the 60s, 80s, 90s and Great Recession and the Class of 2026.

It's fun reading what different generations took for granted, looked forward to or said good riddance to something becoming passé. The class of 1898 always talked to a telephone operator. Women never voted and movies never talked for the class of 1918. The class of 1931 went to the poorhouse in an automobile after losing their jobs in the Great Depression (apologies to Will Rogers). The class of 1944 went from the poorhouse during the Depression to become the Greatest Generation in World War II. The parents of the class of 1957 worried that fluoride and rock 'n roll were commie plots to destroy America. The class of 1970 learned cigarette smoking was dangerous to their health and watched TV's first war (Vietnam) in living color. The class of 1983 started using computers to write papers on gas shortages and AIDS. Michelangelo has always been a turtle to the class of 1996. Telephones and TVs never had dials for the class of 2009. The Mindset List proves what John Kennedy said about "change is the law of life." Check catalog for The Mindset Lists of American History availability.

Submitted by Van Lingle Mungo



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The Ripple Effect by Alex Prud'homme

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Thousands have lived without love, not one without water. W.H. Auden

Think you're an accountable, ecological, and responsible water user? We excrete Viagra, synthetic estrogen, and other prescription drugs -- as well as illicit substances -- whenever we use the toilet. We poison fish every time we wash with antibacterial soap. Some stinkers are even flushing chemicals and leftover pills away.

That being said, Milwaukee's treated drinking water quality currently meets or exceeds all EPA and DNR standards. So why should you care? In The Ripple Effect: The Fate of Freshwater in the Twenty-First Century Prud'homme says, America's water consumption doubles every 20 years, but our supply stays the same. The EPA is too underfunded to effectively monitor water quality, several U.S. cities are dangerously close to running out, and regulations aren't keeping up with new types of pollutants in the water. Add global warming, a population boom, and pollution and before you know it, the hydrocarbon era is over. Water is the new oil! You don't need to be psychic to assume that the nastiest international skirmishes in the next 50 years will probably involve water conflicts.

As Alex Prud'homme and his great-aunt Julia Child were completing their collaboration on her memoir, My Life in France, they began to talk about the French obsession with bottled water which was gaining a toe-hold in America. Curiosity piqued, Prud'homme began ambitious research about water in America.

Prud'homme believes that our water issues are so dire he wants a federally coordinated water czar. He's calling for a national dialogue focusing on water infrastructure issues, and The Replacement Era isn't going to be cheap: the EPA estimated that between 2007 and 2027, drinking water utilities will have to invest $334 billion on new infrastructure. The prognosis for a balanced response to these myriad challenges is not rosy. The problem is exacerbated by the timing of it all: you might have heard about some budget-cutting talk at the local, state and federal level...

The person you love is 90% water and so are you. Considering the efficacy of most of these long-overdue propositions could allow us all to avoid dripping into oblivion.

Submitted by Jane, East Library


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Orientation: And Other Stories by Daniel Orozco

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Orozco's writing is haunting. Even in the longest of his short stories, "Somoza's Dream," when you're not sure where he is going with the story and how - or even if - all the pieces will fit together (they do, I promise), you want to keep reading so very badly because the writing is so very good. He writes as well about the regular everyday things (starting a new job, shopping for groceries) as he does about the extraordinary ones (assassinating exiled dictators, witnessing a murder).

Many of his stories have a unique writing style associated with them. In "Orientation," a story about the orientation given to a new office worker, Orozco writes in the clipped, no-nonsense manner of a human resources manual, and in "Officers Weep," a story about the relationship between two police officers, he writes in a police blotter format. Both formats, and indeed every writing style in the book, work very well.

Orozco excels at writing about the "human" of "the human condition." His characters and stories are complex without being overly complicated. You'll find yourself relating to many of the characters, recognizing both their good and bad traits as parts of yourself. Check catalog for availability.

Submitted by Matt @ East


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A Life At Work by Thomas Moore

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In A Life At Work, New York Times best selling author Thomas Moore discusses the joy of discovering what you were born to do and helps readers answer the age old question, "what am I going to be when I grow up?". Almost everyone can appreciate the frustrating feeling of getting nowhere at work and the desire to be more fulfilled from what you do. With both a spiritual and psychological approach, Moore leads readers through an individual journey of one's own life and teaches readers how to successfully contemplate ones own past in order to choose a gratifying future. Moore shows us that we are all unique beings and that each of us must chose a course that suits that uniqueness. In order to feel fulfilled at work we must chose paths that satisfy the body, mind and sprit by engaging in work that gives meaning to life and inspires positivity. This book explains exactly how to decide if your current job is leading you in this path and if it is not, how to steer your life in a direction of positivity and fulfillment. As it promises, this book isn't just about finding the right job but about uncovering who you were meant to be and finding opportunities that enhance that.

Submitted by Danielle R. - Technical Services, Serials Department


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Kindred by Octavia Butler

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Kindred follows the story of Dana, a black woman living in 1970's California. While celebrating her twenty-sixth birthday, Dana is inexplicably transported to 1815 Maryland to save Rufus, the white son of slave-owners. This becomes habit as Dana is transported back more frequently and for longer periods, each time having to save Rufus from some near death experience. As Dana becomes aware of the link between her future and Rufus's, she must watch as the boy she risks her life for grows up and becomes a cruel slave owner himself. Dana is forced to assume the role of Rufus's slave bringing untold danger to herself and her husband. Realizing that Rufus will never change, Dana makes a decision that will change the lives of people in the past and present.

Submitted by Maria @ Central


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Happy 90th Birthday Pooh Bear!

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Though it wasn't until 1925 that Winnie-the-Pooh officially became a storybook character, he was a stuffed bear given to A. A. Milne's son Christopher Robin 90 years ago on his first birthday, August 21, 1921. The bear then became the model and inspiration for the honey-loving hero of the children's book series that is loved by millions.

Milne made a contribution to the Christmas Eve issue of the Evening News; a bedtime story that he had made up for his son about adventures he had with his Teddy Bear who was known as Winnie-the-Pooh. This bedtime story formed the first chapter of Milnes book entitled Winnie-the-Pooh and was famously followed by Now We are Six and The House at Pooh Corner. The New York Public Library has a timeline about the Real Pooh.

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Submitted by Jacki @ MPL Central


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The Dead of the House by Hannah Green

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No, The Dead of the House is not yet another vampire or supernatural novel. It's the story of an American family from Ohio as told through the eyes of young Vanessa Nye. Originally published in 1972, this long out of print book was rediscovered by Jeannette Watson of the now defunct Books & Co. store in New York and reprinted in 1995.

Vanessa tells her family's history in three segments. The first part, "In My Grandfather's House," takes us through the childhood, adolescence and marriage of Grandpa Nye. He's quite a character who went through life with an amazing sense of wonder and adventure. He owned his own business, wrote history and biography books and was the 'keeper of genealogical records' for the DeGloyer/Nye family.

The second part is entitled "Summer Afternoon, Summer Afternoon." This segment is all about Vanessa's vacations at the shores of Lake Michigan with her mom, dad and sister Lisa. Although they spend time with a lot of the same neighbors and friends year after year, it's never boring. Playing games, swimming in the lake, flirting wih the boys, and nights spent telling stories 'round the campfire are just a few of the good times that Vanessa mentions.

The third and last section, "And Here Tecumseh Fell," recalls Vanessa's homecoming from California for the holidays and reminiscences with other family members of time spent with Grandpa Nye. Grandpa is very ill and in the hospital, so everyone goes to spend a moment or two with him. After the return to the Nye's house, they receive the call that Grandpa Nye has passed away.

I enjoyed this book immensely and I only wish that Hannah Green had been a more prolific writer. She actually published very little in her lifetime. She wrote a number of short stories for magazines, but only published two books: The Dead of the House and one non-fiction book The Little Saint. (Many people confuse Ms. Green with another writer, Joanne Greenberg, who used the pseudonym Hannah Green when she wrote I Never Promised You a Rose Garden and several other books).

Hannah Green passed away in 1996. I'm hoping there will someday be a publication of her other stories--I know I'd certainly like to read them, too!

Submitted by Marge W. @ Central (CCDM)


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Not the most insightful memoir, but certainly an enjoyable look at a TV and movie icon's life. In My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business: A Memoir Van Dyke states that the reader is not going to find any dirt in his book, and indeed the only person he casts any shadow on is himself, as he talks about the disintegration of his marriage. Baby boomers and nostalgia buffs will appreciate his fond remembrances of Dick Van Dyke Show co-stars Mary Tyler Moore and Carl Reiner, while Disney fans will enjoy the retelling of the labor that went into the Mary Poppins "Step in Time" and "Chim Chim Cheree" song and dance numbers and the film wizardry that allowed him to also play the role of Mr. Dawes, Sr., who was the demanding boss of Jane and Michael Banks' father. The closing portion of the book talks about the nearly 25 years he spent, after his divorce, with Michelle Triola, known for filing the legal landmark "palimony" suit against Lee Marvin. Later roles, such as "Dr. Mark Sloan" on Diagnosis: Murder are painted against that backdrop. Photographs illustrate his life and roles along the way. None of his anecdotes go into too much depth, but like a TV sitcom, the book is a quick read that leaves fans in a pleasant, not-overly-full state at the end.

Submitted by Cathy M. @ Central


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Dogs by Tim Flach and text by Lewis Blackwell

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Artist Tim Flach creates stunning, clever, abstract and sometimes humorous portraits of man's best friend and compiles them in this book which is much much more than your average coffee table book. With each color or black and white photograph Lewis Blackwell writes the concise history and description unique to each particular breed of dog portrayed. The portfolio begins where it aught to with the mother of all dogs the Canis lupus or better know as the wolf. From there we see and read about all of the different breeds man has created over the years -- dogs for protecting, hunting, herding, fighting, showing and companionship.

Tim has another equally beautiful book dedicated to horses entitled Equus.

Submitted by Valerie @ MPL Central



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Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami

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Norwegian Wood tells the story of Toru Watanabe, a young student who is trying to come to terms with the death of his best friend Kizuki. He soon grows close to Kizuki's girlfriend Naoko and a romantic relationship develops that confuses them both. Unable to deal, Naoko becomes unstable and tries to isolate herself from the world by checking into a sanatorium. While Toru attempts to be faithful, he becomes drawn to Midori, an outspoken student at his school. As Naoko's mental state deteriorates Toru is torn between the two and can only make a decision when a tragic event changes each of them forever. Set in the turbulent world of 1960s Japan, this is a bittersweet story of young love gone awry.

Submitted by Maria @ Central


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Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

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Ready Player One is a debut novel by Ernest Cline. Set in a dystopian America in 2044, the only way to escape a world full of famine, poverty and disease is a vast virtual reality simulation game based on geek culture from the 1970s and '80s. The person able to solve the increasingly difficult series of puzzles will become an heir to the creator of the game. Millions of people have been trying for years to attain the prize, but have been unable to unlock all the puzzles. Would you be able to win? If you're an expert at Pac-Man, can recite Devo lyrics at random and are overtly familiar with John Hughes' work--it may be possible...

Submitted by Jacki @ MPL Central


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2011 PEN Literary Awards

Earlier this week, the PEN American Center annouced their 2011 PEN Literary Awards winners. Highlights include:

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Fiction Debut - Susanna Daniel, Stiltsville (Harper Perennial) &
Danielle Evans, Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self (Riverhead)

Nonfiction - Robert Perkinson, Texas Tough: The Rise of America's Prison Empire (Metropolitan Books)

Science Writing - Siddhartha Mukherjee, The Emperor of All Maladies (Scribner)

Sports Writing - George Dohrmann, Play Their Hearts Out (Ballantine Books)

Biography - Stacy Schiff, Cleopatra: A Life (Little, Brown and Company)

Click on cover images to check catalog for availability.


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The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson

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Camille and Caleb Fang are performance artists and that is their life. Even their children, Annie and Buster (known as Child A and Child B in the art world), play second fiddle to their work while being reluctantly cast as stars in the performances. The Family Fang is told in the alternating voices of the children when they return home to live with their parents after finding their own adult lives a mess. When Camille and Caleb disappear the children attempt to locate them, though with skepticism, because they can't help wondering if this isn't yet another fabulous show that they've once again been unwittingly cast into. Bizarre, yet funny in a very subtle way, this story of family will amuse and spark thoughtful discussion.

Submitted by Jacki @ Central


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Wonder Girl by Don Van Natta Jr.

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A good biography gives you information and insights into someone's life. When the life is as fascinating as that of Babe Didrikson Zaharias and the writing is clear, compelling and well researched it becomes a great biography. I didn't know much about Babe when I started the book - only that she excelled in many sports including golf. The backstory chronicles a childhood of poverty, a struggle to overcome gender barriers in sports, amazing feats of athleticism and an outsize personality that could often be abrasive and grandiose. The list of her athletic accomplishments is long and includes setting five world records in a single afternoon at the 1932 Amateur Athletic Union track and field championships, winning two gold medals and a silver medal at the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics, and becoming the first American woman to win the British Ladies Amateur Golf Championship in 1947. By 1950 she had won every golf title available to women and become instrumental in the founding of the Ladies Professional Golf Association. The author is very successful at portraying a woman of extraordinary physical gifts and her drive to win, most especially and poignantly at the time of her battle with cancer which ended her life too soon in 1956. Check catalog for availability.

Submitted by Pat @ Central


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The Last Station by Jay Parini

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Leo Tolstoy's last days in 1910 were dominated by a struggle between his wife (Sofya Andreyevna) and his closest disciple and friend (Vladimir Grigorevich Chertkov) concerning his will and the royalties from his books. Sofya desperately wants this inheritance (the copyrights) for her family and Chertkov would like the funds to provide continuing support for the Tolstoyan movement which he would personally lead. Tolstoy is caught in the middle of these warring factions and the obvious personal contradictions between the way he lives as Count Tolstoy and the precepts that he preaches for his countrymen. Sofya is demonized by those opposed to her as a controlling madwoman whose hysterical outbursts destroy everything in her path.

The author Jay Parini has written an excellent historical novel based on the actual diaries kept by all involved. The Last Station: A Novel of Tolstoy's Final Year in turn is written in individual chapters from the first person viewpoint of the main characters - in many cases retelling an actual event from multiple viewpoints. Sofya is the most interesting and sympathetic of all the characters - as a young bride she painstakingly transcribed War and Peace in longhand from her husband's cryptic and convoluted notes about the text. (I would have given her the inheritance just for having accomplished that task alone). The pain she suffers is not just that others are plotting against her but that ultimately her husband is physically taken away from her by his followers and her daughter. Sofya is not even allowed to visit with him as he lay on his deathbed - she is allowed to visit only after he has completely lost consciousness. Sofia Tolstoy's diaries have been recently revised and newly translated with an introduction by Doris Lessing - The Diaries of Sofia Tolstoy.

Leo Tolstoy might have been the greatest of Russian authors but as a reader of this novel you are left with an iconic author who is struggling to match the persona that he has created for himself. He ends up as just another grumpy old man who more than anything else just wants to be left alone. He does not even have the backbone to be honest with his wife - he and Chertkov secretly meet in the woods to rewrite his will unbeknownst to his wife. Sonya might not have shared her husband's lofty idealism but she certainly cared more for him than he did for her. Novel was also recently made into a movie - The Last Station with Helen Mirren as Sofya and Christopher Plummer as Leo Tolstoy and a conniving Paul Giamatti as Chertkov.

Submitted by Tom O. @ Central


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Another Faust by Daniel & Dina Nayeri

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It's fun to read a book where authors create characters that you just love to hate, where you can't wait to see if karma gets the evil ones in the end or if they prevail to create even more havoc in the world. In Another Faust Madame Vileroy is that villain. Early on she visits five young children and gives them each a different supernatural power. When the children become young adults they go to live with Madame Vileroy and attend an elite New York high school. There they use their powers to succeed, but not without a price to be paid to their magical "fairy godmother."

Visit the authors' website here.

Submitted by Valerie @ Central



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This Beautiful Life by Helen Schulman

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I picked up This Beautiful Life by Helen Schulman because a review said it will appeal to readers who thrive on discussing moral ambiguities. Indeed. The Bergamots are a thriving family of four until 15 year old Jake attends a party and meets 13 year old Daisy. After a make-out session she invites him to spend the night and 'hook up.' He thinks she is too young, among other things, and heads for home. The next morning he checks his email and finds Daisy has made him a sexually explicit video. Unsure what to think, he forwards it to a friend, who forwards it to a friend, and soon his whole family is suffering the consequences of his action.

Submitted by Jacki @ Central


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1959: The Year Everything Changed by Fred Kaplan

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Certain years in recent American history are generally considered to be a time of cataclysmic change and upheaval - 1968 for example comes to mind as emblematic of the 1960's as a whole. Other years are relegated to a much lower profile in history books and unless it happens to be the year that you were born, rarely celebrated at all. Fred Kaplan, a Slate columnist, has dusted off the year 1959 and written a fascinating account of this pivotal year that did much to shape our current world in 1959: The Year Everything Changed.

In 1959 the first microchip was introduced by Texas Instruments and the "pill" as in birth control pill was submitted to the FDA for approval by pharmaceutical manufacturer Searle. The so called "sick comic" Lenny Bruce appeared on the Steve Allen show in April of 1959 and Mort Sahl was getting rave reviews on stage in San Francisco for simply reading and commenting on articles in the daily newspaper. It is easy to trace the comedic breakthrough that gave way to George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy and Chris Rock. The phrase "beatniks" (a play on Sputnik) coined by Jack Kerouac was an apt description of a movement that foreshadowed the hippie movement of the 1960's and equally important Howl by Allen Ginsberg and Naked Lunch by William Burroughs were also published in 1959. The jazz album Kind of Blue was released by Miles Davis that same year and is often described as a seminal jazz work and the cornerstone of any jazz collection. The author unfortunately gives short shrift to other music genres but his riff on jazz is well worth reading regardless of your musical tastes. Two major events of the 1960's - the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights movement are of course a part of the author's analysis of the year 1959. In 2061 will 2011 be considered a historic year or just be a minor footnote as the 10th anniversary of an earlier historic event - 9/11?

Submitted by Tom O. @ Central


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Temeraire Series by Naomi Novik

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Imagine Europe's Napoleonic Wars (setting for Patrick O'Brian's historical naval novels, which provided the basis for the film Master and Commander) if dragons existed and had been harnessed into military service as an Aerial Corps by each major military power of the day. Author Naomi Novik brings such an alternative history vividly to life in her Temeraire series. The first book, His Majesty's Dragon, introduces the upstanding young naval captain Will Laurence, whose life is changed forever when he accidentally becomes bonded to a dragon hatchling of great intelligence and mysterious pedigree, whom he names Temeraire. The books (six already published, with a seventh due in March 2012, and projected to total nine in all) follow Laurence and Temeraire as they learn to trust one another and struggle to find a place for themselves in British military and society. Their adventures in subsequent novels take them from Scotland to China, deep into the heart of Africa, onto the battlefields of Napoleon's Europe, and around the world to Australia. Along the way, the duo makes both allies and enemies, often in the unlikeliest places. Novik infuses these novels with rich characters and relationships, stirring adventures, and detailed historical and science fiction world-building. The Temeraire novels offer an absorbing and rewarding read to fans of historical novels, military strategy and tactics, and science fiction alike.

FYI, the books, in order, are:
His Majesty's Dragon
Throne of Jade
Black Powder War
Empire of Ivory
Victory of Eagles
Tongues of Serpents
Crucible of Gold - coming March 2012

Submitted by Heather @ Central

Help support Milwaukee Public Library Villard Square Branch! You can help support the new MPL Villard Square Branch by clicking on the link below. Your support through the Milwaukee Public Library Foundation will help to provide enhancements to the new library that will encourage and influence library patrons, particularly young people to see the library as a welcoming place for positive activity. If donating online, simply include "Villard" under the special instructions. Thank you!

Double your gift - Milwaukee Public Library Foundation
has received funds to match dollar for dollar donations supporting
the new library up to a total of $100,000.

Donate Now!




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Modernist Cuisine

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Milwaukee Public Library's newest foodie acquisition is Modernist Cuisine by Nathan Myhrvold with Chris Young, Maxime Bilet. Photography by Ryan Matthew Smith and Nathan Myhrvold. modernistcuisine.com According to Myhrvold, the goal was to explain the science, techniques, chemistry and physics of cooking. This publication is like Cook's Illustrated on steroids. In addition to their recipes and science, photographed cut-a-ways show you magical views of what is happening to your food as you cook it. Yes, they actually cut the pans, grills, jars, food, even a $5,000 oven in half in a machine shop and photographed the food as it cooked. The point here is to show you a view you have never seen before and also explain all the science behind their techniques. TraditionalOpener.jpg
In five volumes are 2,064 large, gorgeous pages of food, techniques, charts, graphs, photos and a 374 page "Kitchen Manual" that has washable, waterproof pages. This makes for 2,438 pages of amazing, unique reading. Most everything about food and cooking is covered--from food and culinary history to the modern trends started by Grant Aschatz, Hestor Blumenthal, Ferran Adria and others. Please come and take a look at this six-volume set (with 1500 recipes) in the Business and Technology Room at Central Library.
Submitted by Rebecca @ Central


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Death At La Fenice by Donna Leon

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It isn't often that I come across a literary character and think of him as a new friend, but such is the case with Guido Brunetti. Vice-Commissario of police, fun-loving husband and father, a true gentleman, and personal Venetian tourguide for every reader of Donna Leon's series.

Death At La Fenice, the first mystery in the Brunetti series, introduces Venice the way a true Venetian knows it, without once mentioning a gondola. Walk with Brunetti down the cobbled streets, through fog so dense you can feel it creep under your collar, into some of his favorite cafes and shops, and past treasured buildings, like Teatro La Fenice.

It is in this theater that Maestro Helmut Wellauer, a world-renowned composer, dies during the intermission of La Traviata. From cyanide poisoning. Was it his grieving young widow? The star of his opera or her lover? An old flame? Commissario Brunetti conducts his investigation with patience, an inner humor, and chivalry. Whether he's questioning a suspect, reporting to his amusingly predictable and predictably cranky boss Patta, or just going over the day's events with his wife Paola, you'll enjoy being a fly on the wall, eavesdropping on all these conversations.

Leon has a way of writing that just makes the city and characters come alive. I've never been to Venice, but I swear I could hear the footsteps in the narrow streets, taste the warm coffee on a cold, rainy day, and feel the love Brunetti has for his family.

It's a tough economy and travel is expensive. But library books are free!! So check out Death At La Fenice and feel like you're in Italy, at least for a little while. Viaggia felice!

Submitted by Ali @ Central

Help support Milwaukee Public Library Villard Square Branch! You can help support the new MPL Villard Square Branch by clicking on the link below. Your support through the Milwaukee Public Library Foundation will help to provide enhancements to the new library that will encourage and influence library patrons, particularly young people to see the library as a welcoming place for positive activity. If donating online, simply include "Villard" under the special instructions. Thank you!

Double your gift - Milwaukee Public Library Foundation
has received funds to match dollar for dollar donations supporting
the new library up to a total of $100,000.

Donate Now!



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Choosing Death: The Improbable History of Death Metal and Grindcore traces the roots of death metal and grindcore to their more current forms, touching on many of the issues that helped shape the music over the years. Included are the infamous Florida Death Metal scene, with bands such as Obituary, Death and Morbid Angle, the Grindcore bands of England including Carcass and Godflesh and the Death Metal hot bed of Sweden with bands such as Nihilist and Carnage and Polish Death Metalers Vader. The book does a fairly decent job of documenting the history of the music and the scene, its rise to prominence and current state. The text is supplemented with many rare and interesting photographs. Anyone with an interest in this music will find the book one of the top reads on the subject.

Submitted by Eric @ Central


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Phantom Evil by Heather Graham

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New Orleans. Ghosts. Murder. Romance. Historic Mansion in the French Quarter. Heather Graham uses all of these elements in her book Phantom Evil. Jackson Crowe heads a secret government unit which deals with the paranormal. The members in this unit all have psychic talents and are called in to investigate the death of a Senator's wife. Senator Holloway does not believe that his wife committed suicide. He thinks that his wife was killed by the ghosts in this haunted mansion once inhabited by a serial killer. Suicide, ghosts, or someone or something more sinister?

Perfect for a summer night when you can stay up late, read the whole book, and sleep in the next morning. I have the next book in the series on hold; I'll just have to wait for the right night to read it.

Submitted by Connie @ Central


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